I can’t believe the town we’re I live was at the centre the industrial revolution. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise because Oldham is a town full of surprises.
Historically it was at the centre of the global cotton industry, and as part of that was also at the centre of social reform.
During this period workers campaigned for better working conditions and improved social welfare and these issues mobilised women in the town to campaign for the vote.
If like me you were probably introduced to the Suffragette movement at school. But if you only read the couple of paragraphs in the text books like I did then you only got the headlines, the story is far more interesting and inspirational.
It was a campaign that involved women from all over the country from mill workers in the north through to the landed gentry in the south. All with a common cause, to have a say in how the country was run. They wanted the vote and fought very hard to achieve it.
Today something happened that would have been unheard of a century ago. A statue of the local suffragette and campaigner Annie Kenney was unveiled in the front of the Old Town Hall.
It wasn’t that long ago that the council was looking to put a statue of Winston Churchill on the plinth to celebrate his achievements and as much as he was a great statesman in later life, his brush with Oldham was less than inspiring.
So why do I think Annie Kenney is a better choice?
Her influence along with Emmeline Pankhurst showed working class people who thought they had no voice that if they joined together they could make a difference.
These women changed our country for the better, they gave women and the down trodden a voice to make a change for the better.
I wish we had people of that spirit around today, I wonder what we could achieve if we did.